The Dark Pond

The Dark Pond

"Feeling things. That's one of the gifts I got from my mother, being able to feel things that other people don't. Spooky, isn't it? That's how most other kids see it. And me. Spooky Armie. Ever since I was really little...I've been teased because I was weird. It wasn't just because I looked different, with my thick black hair and my brown skin. It was also because I said things that other kids thought was strange." It is this "gift" that gives Armie, half Armenian and half Shawnee, the knowledge that something sinister lies in wait in the pond beyond his mountain boarding school. But even though the teen is drawn to the pond ("It was drawing me in, you see. It was calling me. It knew I was there. It was waiting under the ice.") and is prevented from foolishly walking onto its thin ice surface by a fox, there is more that occupies his mind. One is the first real friendship Armie has ever known, with a boy whose appearance is the opposite of his own large, hulking self: a tall, thin redhead who calls himself Devo. Then there is the task of fitting in at this boarding school, a job made easier by the surrounding wilderness, a likable counselor, the library where Armie can secret himself for hours and find the answers he is looking for, and Mitch Sabattis, an Abenaki member of the school's grounds crew who recognizes his gift at their first meeting. It is Mitch, working on a doctorate in zoology, who Armie finds himself involved with in solving the mystery of the monster in the pond--and who is intent on using his knowledge of anatomy to destroy it. Joseph Bruchac has written a literary gem in this suspenseful tale. He spices the story with delightful tidbits: "I puzzled over the mystery meat that was making a halfhearted last stand between two halves of a baked potato old enough to vote." "Librarians are second only to eagles as far as observing anything entering their domain." "The scream split through the silence like a rocket shell bursting against the black fabric of the receding darkness." Armie is a likable teen (which comes as a bit of a surprise to him) with whom readers will identify. Sally Wern Comport's black-and-white illustrations add to the atmosphere of suspense. Kids who enjoy spooky stories with a touch of humor and a feel-good ending will love this one. Ages 10-14 Recommended by Barbara Karp, Librarian, New York USA

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